How to Make Your Own Solar Powered Lantern for Under $10

diy-solar-lantern.jpgLooking for some great eco-friendly ways to light up your porch, deck, or patio this fall?

How does making your own solar powered lantern for less than $10 sound?

Yeah, it sounds GREAT to me too!

As the weather begins to cool down and the football season revs up, many of us will soon be spending more time outdoors.

To make sure you’re the coolest, greenest, most rock star cat at your own green fall cookout, check out the following 3 (not just 1) simple DIY lanterns. Two of them are solar powered.


$3 LED Tea Light Lantern

I first got the idea for this post when I saw the plans for this super easy, simple, and inexpensive mason jar LED lantern over at ShakYard.

While the plan looks like a great idea and it is a greener option, it’s also pretty wasteful as well.

Do to the simplicity of the idea (as you can see from the pic), the battery of each light is wasted rather quickly, as one commenter on those plans already mentioned.

That said, if you would like a quick, easy, temporary lighting solution, this idea may still be the way to go. Just note that it seems to give more of a tea light effect, rather than a lot of light.



$10 DIY Solar Powered SunJar

Many people have seen the original SunJar by Tobias Wong. Sure, it looks great, but who has the cash to drop $50 per light?

Not me, that’s for sure. Neither did Megan at

In fact, she went ahead and made her own for about $10!

Check out her solar powered frosted lantern tutorial, complete with very detailed instructions and pictures.

Note that the picture at the top of the post is how her finished product looks. It was also worthy enough to be featured in ReadyMade Magazine last year.


Ultimate DIY Solar Powered SunJar

As you can see from the pic, that last option may still not give you the accent lighting that you’re looking for.

If that be the case, check out the mack daddy of all the DIY solar lantern plans at UnpluggedLiving.

Now I’m no electrician, so all the “ohms”, “miliamps” and other technical jargon in those instructions kind of scare me, but after taking a second look, I think any DIYer could pull off that build.

I also don’t know what electrical materials (like resistors, etc) cost, but I’m betting this build is around $10 as well.


Best Option: Put ‘Em All Together!

I think the best option is to use the ultimate solar lantern electrical plans with the frosted glass container idea from the $10 DIY solar SunJar idea and BOOM… you’ve got some sexy, simple, eco-friendly lighting for your porch, patio, and deck.

Let the entertaining begin!

Have you found any other great outdoor solar lighting options or DIY ideas that you care to share?




Yo. I'm Jeffrey. I think every little step is an awesome one when it comes to living green... but eco-snobbery sucks.

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  • Tzilla86

    A super green lighting option… why not candles? and like, put them in a jar.

  • Leftfoot

    (referring to the linked “”) How is it green to buy a NEW plastic product, take a few parts out of it, slap it into a newly purchased/non-recycled glass mason jar and spray toxic chemicals on it (while using a non-recyclable plastic sheeting)? Seriously.

  • Patio Solar Lights

    Very nice. This would bring a huge impact on all patio solar lights business. :)))

  • HodgePodge

    Another way to do this is using Solar powered Christmas lights. After Christmas at Target – $9 for a solar powered 110 led bulb set plus existing plastic jar, tuperware container, or flower vase and a little glue. I have two of these in the works and I can light up my work shop with them. I am doing this for camping instead of coleman gas lamps and battery powered flashlights.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Nice! great idea! can u send us some pics when you get it finished?

  • outdoor string lights patio

    This is the great blog, I’m reading them for a while,
    thanks for the new posts!

  • Gaz Hawkins

    anyone know if the unplugged living site is still going – can’t find it anywhere